Mental Toughness Only for Competition or not?

Mental toughness – what do you think of when someone uses this term? Of course the sports psychology academic and research worlds have their formal definitions.

Famed sports psychologist Jim Loehr defines it as “the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances.”

Dr. Connaughton & Hanton define it as “having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to: generally, cope better than your opponents with the many demands that sport places on a performer; specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure” 

bolded a couple of terms that show up repeatedly in the definitions of mental toughness. In my work with athletes and non-athletes I have to say that I disagree with these terms in the definition or should I say it needs clarification. If by “opponent” they mean the person or team you oppose, I feel it is far too limited to fully encompass the concept of mental toughness. Everyday life offers many opportunities to prove mental toughness.

I also believe that mental toughness can be demonstrated without other people even being present never mind oppose!

Take a look at the following list. How many of these attributes or skills do you think apply to other than competitive situations?

  • Confidence
  • Motivation
  • Focusing and refocusing – concentration
  • Decision making (especially under pressure)
  • Emotional control
  • Leadership
  • Performance anxiety / nerves
  • Self-belief
  • Attitude/Mindset
  • Body language
  • Self-talk and thoughts
  • Performing or executing (especially under pressure)
  • Communicating with others effectively
  • Information processing (especially under pressure)

If you are like me – you will probably find that these skills and abilities should be developed in everyone – athlete or not; competitive environment or not; pressure packed situation or not. The great thing is that every one of these are learnable aside from any individual traits (unchangeable) you may have.

If you find that you are mentally tough in one area of life and not so much in other areas; or, if you find specific situations that you tend to be less effective, drop me a line – I can help. Drop me a line.

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